A multiplayer beta for forthcoming tactical shooter Ghost Recon: Future Soldier runs from 19th April until 2nd May on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, publisher Ubisoft has announced.
The trial will let up to 12 players choose from three classes - rifleman, engineer or scout - and access two different game modes.
Conflict sees players battling it out to complete various objectives around the game map, while Saboteur asks you to locate a bomb and then detonate it at your opponent's HQ. Both modes are playable on two maps: Pipeline and Mill.
Conflict will be available from 19th April, while Saboteur unlocks on 26th April.
Anyone who owns an Xbox 360 copy of Splinter Cell: Conviction gets access to the beta. If that's not you, you'll need to pre-order Future Soldier for a key.
Publisher Ubisoft has also announced Ghost Recon Network, a companion service that lets you tracks stats and connect with other player via smartphone, tablet or a web browser.
The app will let you customise weapon load-outs on the go, access your player performance details, challenge friends, check up on their progress, manage your squad and unlock various in-game extras. See the screens below for a closer look.
It will launch in tandem with the game on 25th May, though anyone in on the beta will get early access to a few of its features.
The PC version of the game follows a few weeks later on 15th June.
The PC version of forthcoming tactical shooter Ghost Recon: Future Soldier launches on 15th June, publisher Ubisoft has announced.
It's optimised for DirectX 11, features an online widget for improved multiplayer and party functionality, and boasts fully customisable keyboard controls.
As for DRM, you'll need to log on to the internet for a one-time uPlay product registration when you first boot the game up. No connection is needed thereafter unless you're after online multiplayer.
Finally, Ubisoft has also released the game's system requirements:
Minimum hardware requirements:
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions arrive three weeks earlier on 25th May.
For more on the game, see Eurogamer's recent Ghost Recon: Future Soldier preview.
Once upon a time gaming required a single disc, or cartridge, or, going back further, a cassette tape, and a gamer.
Now, the biggest game companies in the world are dreaming up ways for you to play their biggest franchises wherever you are, on whatever device you might have to hand. These disparate experiences, on a mobile, on a PC, on a home console, are different, but they connect to each other, fuelling each other and the progress you make in one, all encompassing, resource gathering profile.
One of the companies at the forefront of this sea change in the way we play games is Ubisoft, which, with the upcoming release of Ghost Recon Online on the PC (and, later this year, on Wii U), hopes to tap into the modern way we play on a much deeper level.
To coincide with the launch of the free to play shooter, Ubisoft will release a companion experience, as it calls it, called Ghost Recon Commander, on Facebook and mobile. This game connects and contributes to the core Ghost Recon Online experience.
This, Ubisoft's digital boss Chris Early tells Eurogamer, is the latest fruit of the French company's analysis of core gamer "day parts" - that is, how and when they game throughout the day.
Ubisoft's "experiement", as Early puts it, with this was Assassin's Creed Brotherhood companion Facebook game Project Legacy, which let players unlock items in the console game.
"The Project Legacy is an example of how you can, only at lunch, but whatever, play a Facebook game that's going to give you some benefits to your gameplay in the evening," Early explains.
Face it, at lunch I'm not going to sit down in front of my console at that big screen TV, nor am I necessarily going to want to sit on my phone at night.
"Face it, at lunch I'm not going to sit down in front of my console at that big screen TV, nor am I necessarily going to want to sit on my phone at night. It's about creating compelling experiences for the platform."
More and more publishers are investing in providing an experience across multiple platforms so gamers can stay engaged in universes and brands throughout the day, and the emphasis is on social.
One high profile recent example was EA's Mass Effect 3-related app Mass Effect Data Pad. Not only did this contain codex entries and a feed of the BioWare Twitter page, but it allowed you to gather resources by deploying ships to conflict zones across the galaxy. These resources would then contribute to your Galactic Readiness in the main game. But it was a two-way street: characters in the main game would send you text messages, commenting on the story and the decisions you made as Commander Shepard on console or PC.
This was a single-player experience. For Ubisoft, the future of gaming is having all your friends involved in your game, working together, whether they're core gamers or not, to fuel your progress.
This is what Early hopes Ghost Recon Commander will achieve. "One of the concepts we're looking at with Ghost Recon Online and Ghost Recon Commander is, how do we change that companion gaming emphasis to not just be about you and your different day parts, but how do we let multiple people contribute to the same gameplay experience?" he says.
"How do I let multiple people play Ghost Recon Commander and be part of my support team for Ghost Recon Online, where my play in Ghost Recon Online now actually benefits their Facebook play and their Facebook play benefits me?
How do we create a play environment that lets many play with a few and still have a meaningful relationship?
"The Facebook game reach is a broader, larger number of people than a core game reach. So with that ratio in mind, how do we create a play environment that lets many play with a few and still have a meaningful relationship?"
This is just the beginning: expect all Ubisoft's big franchises to employ a similar strategy to the one used for Ghost Recon. That means a Facebook and mobile experience for Assassin's Creed 3, due out later this year, and Splinter Cell 6, whenever that's released, although Early isn't saying how they will work yet.
Core gamers may baulk at the idea of playing a Facebook game, but according to Ubisoft's research, you're perfectly happy playing on the gargantuan social platform if it benefits your core game.
"I've heard the same thing. There are no gamers on Facebook. Gamers don't really play on Facebook. Maybe they'll use it to talk to their friends but that's it," Early says, before highlighting the success he saw with Assassin's Creed Project Legacy.
"It was a very good companion gaming strategy where you saw benefits flowing in both directions. The experiment side was, we only promoted it through Brotherhood. So the question was, would we get gamers who were either on Facebook or to adopt Facebook, to go play there? The answer was a resounding yes.
"We had a strong number of players, into the seven digits of people who connected their games together through uPlay so they could receive the benefits back and forth. That was all the answer they needed. Gamers, given the right content, would play on Facebook."
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Halo: Reach lead designer Christian Allen has taken to Kickstarter to fund his resurrection of old-school, hardcore tactical shooters.
He's after $200,000, and he's got until 1st April to make it. So far he's had 151 backers who've pledged a combined $7448.
"For years, fans of tactical shooters have been crying out for someone to make a quality, hardcore, close-quarters combat tactical shooter," wrote Allen on his Kickstarter page.
"But in contrast to these requests, game publishers eschew realism and tactics in exchange for ease of use and 'cinematic' flavour.
"[tactical shooter fans] don't care about a blockbuster cinematic experience; they can already get that from COD or Uncharted. They want a focused, challenging experience that leaves them satisfied in conquering it."
Christian Allen, founder, Serellan
"This campaign aims to see if my theory that real tactical shooters aren't dead, and that enough people want one to justify the cost of development."
Allen has started a new company called Serellan, and formed a small, experienced team.
"We are focusing our initial development on a hardcore CQB tactical shooter," he shared.
"This game will get back to the core of what is loved about the tac-shooter, featuring realistic weapon modelling, outfitting and commanding your squad, objective-based, non-linear missions set in real-world locations around the world, single player, co-op, and multiplayer.
The funding will help Allen prove to investors that the appetite for such a game exists.
"My approach is to look to the fans and what they have been asking about for so many years," Allen explained in a separate interview with Hookshot Inc. "They don't care about a blockbuster cinematic experience; they can already get that from COD or Uncharted. They want a focused, challenging experience that leaves them satisfied in conquering it.
"Pitching that to a publisher, though, is like pitching a new flight sim. They think the genre is dead, like point and click adventure games supposedly are - Double Fine showed them the error of their ways."
"This game will get back to the core of what is loved about the tac-shooter, featuring realistic weapon modelling, outfitting and commanding your squad, objective-based, non-linear missions set in real-world locations around the world, single player, co-op, and multiplayer."
Tim Schafer's Double Fine studio received overwhelming Kickstarter support for an old school point and click adventure project. Double Fine sought $400,000, but has received - with eight days to go - a staggering $2.4 million from 69,507 backers.
Christian Allen and Serellan will reward Kickstarter funders in different ways. There are three tiers of involvement: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Pledging $50 or more gets you into the Silver tier, where you'll be able to vote game content. Pledging $100 or more gets you into the Gold tier, allowing you to submit content for the game. And pledging $1000 or more gets you into the Platinum tier, where you'll participate in "creative meetings, visit the studio, and much more".
The rewards continue to scale up to donations of $10,000 or more, and they all stack, meaning that at $10,000 you receive every tier of rewards.
Pledging top whack - $10,000 or more - gets you a custom Baretta gun by Christian Allen himself. You can opt for a BBgun replica if the laws of your country/state don't allow this. $7500 or more has Christian Allen fly to your home town to organise a LAN party; $5000 or more involves a trip to the studio and to a shooting range; and $2500 has your face and name put on a team member in the game.
UPDATE: Ubisoft's unverified list of 2012 release dates is "inaccurate", the publisher has told Eurogamer.
"We're thrilled and kind of amused to see this line-up news," a Ubisoft statement handed to Eurogamer begins.
"It shows that players are anxious to hear about Ubisoft's upcoming releases. This reported line-up is inaccurate. We guarantee you that you'll hear directly from us soon about the amazing variety of games Ubisoft has slated for fiscal year 2012-13."
ORIGINAL STORY: Ubisoft will release Assassin's Creed 3 and Splinter Cell: Retribution this year, according to an unverified release schedule posted by Gameranx.
Eurogamer has been trying to contact Ubisoft all morning, but has been unable to verify the document with the publisher.
But it sounds about right.
Ubisoft has teased that 2012 will bring a "major" new game in the Assassin's Creed franchise. Eurogamer since discovered that this game will conclude the story of protagonist Desmond Miles before the series' doomsday date arrives in real life. That doomsday date is 2012, so we'll need the concluding instalment this year.
PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Xbox 360 versions of Assassin's Creed 3 are apparently on the way. Nintendo mentioned an Assassin's Creed Wii U game when the console was unveiled at E3 last summer.
This is the first time we've heard the name Splinter Cell: Retribution, but we knew a new Splinter Cell game was in development at Ubisoft Toronto, and has been for several years. That project's being lead by ex-Assassin's Creed frontwoman, Jade Raymond. Retribution's down to appear on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
A Prince of Persia game for Wii and 3DS is also mentioned. Could it be a new game, or is it the downloadable Prince of Persia port that was released for WiiWare and the 3DS Virtual Console last month?
A game called Just Dance Final Party is listed for Wii, PlayStation Move and Xbox 360 as well. And what a dramatic name - do we take this to mean Final Party will be the last Just Dance game from Ubisoft?
We doubt it.
We've reproduced the full (and as yet unconfirmed) Ubisoft slate below. Curiously, there's no mention of Rayman Origins, which is scheduled to launch on PlayStation Vita next week.
Online modes for the majority of Ubisoft games will be impacted next week when the company moves its gaming servers.
PC and Mac gamers will find several games completely unavailable online and offline.
Ubisoft will start transitioning its online services from next Tuesday, 7th February.
PC games scheduled to go dark include Tom Clancy's HAWX 2, Might & Magic: Heroes 6 and The Settlers 7.
Mac gamers will lose access to Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell Conviction and The Settlers.
Uplay on PC will fall offline completely, although other PC games not mentioned above will remain playable offline if already connected at least once.
Top titles Assassin's Creed: Revelations and Driver: Francisco will remain playable online throughout the server move across PC and all console platforms.
Just Dance 3 on Xbox 360 and The Settlers Online on PC will also be unaffected.
All other Ubisoft games will have their online modes "impacted" during the maintenance, the company has warned.
Ubisoft did not mention how long the work would last.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier ain't quite what it used to be. When it first broke cover - and when we last took a serious look at it - Ubisoft's tactical shooter series had evolved into something far removed from the games of old, having become an action-heavy third-person shooter starring a soldier who was, in Ubisoft's own words, "an F-16 on legs". It had turned into Gears of Recon, and it proved an unpopular shift in direction for a series once known for its tactical smarts.
"We'd just finished Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, but that was just an iteration of the first Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter," creative director Jean-Marc Geffroy says of Future Soldier's first pass. "The team wanted to renew the game - they wanted to stay faithful, but they wanted to renew as well. And sometimes, when you're like that maybe you go too far in one direction."
Remember the over-powered exoskeleton, the class system and the player tethering discussed at the game's reveal? Forget about it - all of it - as today's version of Future Soldier is a world away from the one first shown in 2010.
"The team was thinking about changing the game, and at the same moment we were working with consultants," says Geffroy on the decision to switch tracks with Future Soldier. "It was interesting - at this time, we needed another view from someone who could tell us that maybe it's a great game, but from a military perspective, it's just s**t.
"It was at this moment where we thought that we're too sci-fi - we had some good input from Special Forces who told us what really is their job. It was the right moment to change. We didn't change the engine, we didn't change a lot of stuff - but we changed the design, the visuals and the mission system."
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, the latest entry in Ubisoft's tactical shooter series has been delayed until 24th May.
The game had originally been announced for a March release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, though the development team has decided it needs a little more time.
"We're pretty much there. We just want to take that extra couple of months to make sure your experience is perfect," explained the game's development director Adrien Lacey via a YouTube announcement today.
Lacey also seized the moment to confirm that a PC version of the game is in the works - despite word to the contrary late last year - and a multiplayer beta will go live on consoles prior to launch.
For more on the follow up to 2007's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 take a look at the trailer below.